Luise Fitzwalter on how she came to join Granada

Well, we moved moved to Manchester because my then husband Deepak Nandy became the deputy chief executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which had just been set up. And as a result of him taking on this equal opportunities role, I lost my job in London. So the deal was, have a baby, and so my eldest daughter was born and two years later my next daughter.

And so I was desperate to go back to work, and at the time the EOC was getting big companies, especially in the north, saying, “What are you doing about married women returners?” and so on the off chance I wrote Granada and said, “How about me? I’m a married woman returner.” And I got a letter from Chris Kerr saying come in for a chat. And I don’t know what happened, and I never found out from Chris, but I arrive for this chat, having great difficulty getting a babysitter for half an hour, and there was a full board with Mike Scott in the chair and one of those long tables that Granada has, I think it was downstairs. And I just looked at this board and thought, “This is completely crazy, I’m not prepared for this. I haven’t done any research, I just literally came in for a chat.”

So they asked me a couple of the usual kind of questions that, you know how aggressive it used to be, and so I stood up I said, “Look, gentlemen…” – of course it was gentlemen, there ere no ladies there – I said, “Look, I’m terribly sorry but I think there’s been a misunderstanding here. I came in just to chat, to discuss the possibility of working for you, and I don’t want to waste your time, we’re all busy people,” and I stood up to go. And of course they loved that, absolutely loved it. And I was terribly used to dealing with people with huge egos, because I’d worked in the Commons as my first job. So they said, “Oh, my dear, we’re terribly sorry there’s been this misunderstanding,” glaring at Chris, and then they said, “Have you got any questions?” So I said, “Well, since you’re all here, I’d love to ask you what’s the programme you’re most proud of?” Of course an hour later, when they stopped talking, they invited me back for a second interview.

And the second interview, I was prepared for. And I remember the first question was, “What would you really burn to put on World in Action?” And I was only a viewer at that time and didn’t know much about it. I said, and it was the time of the Falklands, and I said, “Well, you know, an uncontroversial little number called ‘Who needs the free press when the government wants war?’” and we carried on from there. So the thing they liked about me of course was that I’d had Commons experience and I knew everybody in the House, in both Houses, extremely well. And therefore when I was put on news, I could pick up the phone and say to ministers on their private line, you know, “Can you come talk on Granada Reports?” which was exactly what they wanted.

What year was this?

It was 1983. And I stayed 10 years before I was sacked.


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